12th August 2016 is World Elephant Day: a day bring to attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants.
At the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, every day is elephant day!
Their trained Keepers are the elephants’ care-givers. This means:
Getting up at six in the morning to let the babies out of their stables which they sleep in for warmth and protection (with a Keeper on a bunk above).
Wrapping any of the youngest babies in blankets (mornings in Nairobi can be very cold).
And then heading out into the forest.
Much of the day is spent walking and browsing, with milk feeds throughout the day. For some of the new arrivals, this means hanging up blankets on tree branches to mimic the stomachs of their lost mothers that they would have otherwise rested their trunks on for comfort to feed.
At midday, the orphans have a mud bath during which, there is a one hour visiting session from the public who stand behind a cordon to watch the mud mayhem.
Then it’s back to the bush for more feeding, browsing and walking before bedtime at 6pm.
Each orphan has a Keeper that will sleep in their stables at night on rotation, so there is always someone present to comfort the elephants and feed the youngest throughout the night. The rotation prevents a baby becoming too attached to any one of their carers.
See their day in action – watch the video below to go behind the scenes at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant Nursery:
It is estimated some 25,000 – 30,000 elephants are killed each year across Africa by poachers.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage is part of their Orphans’ Project, which rescues, hand rears and reintegrates orphaned wild animals, but primarily elephants, back into a life in the wild.
The ultimate aim of the Orphans’ Project is to reintegrate orphaned elephants back to a life in the wild, and to date, the magical journey has been made by over 100 elephants, several of whom have gone on to have wild born babies.
The Trust are aware of 18 wild born babies and their birth is the ultimate success story.
Anyone wishing to support the work of the DSWT can visit www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.